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Housing protections clear Virginia legislature

woman at podium
Del. Marcia Price (D-Newport News) sponsored two bills to provide housing relief. Both bills now await the governor's signature. This photo was taken earlier in 2020, before the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo: Craig Carper/VPM News)

Virginians facing financial hardship as a result of the pandemic could soon have new protections. 

The state Senate passed two bills on Thursday that aim to help renters stay in their homes. Both bills were sponsored by Del. Marcia Price (D-Newport News), 

One bill would allow for tenants to catch up on late rent by paying overdue amounts in equal installments over six months. This would only apply to landlords who own more than four rental units in Virginia. 

To qualify for a payment plan, a renter must provide signed proof that they have experienced a loss of income as a result of the pandemic. This must be done within five days of receiving written notice from a landlord informing a tenant of their missed rent. 

Landlords who own four or less rental units in the state can still evict tenants with overdue rents, but only after serving them a written warning.

The payment plan option will only be in effect for the duration of the governor’s declared state of emergency. 

The other measure will allow tenants a 60-day grace period to address missed payments before facing eviction. Homeowners and landlords also get 30 days before they’re faced with foreclosure — unless they’re already getting another form of foreclosure relief. 

This is nearly identical to legislation Price sponsored earlier this year. However, it expands the definition of written proof of financial hardship so that any amount of lost income would qualify. Acceptable forms of proof include:

  • a pay stub showing reduced wages during COVID-19;
  • a copy of a furlough letter from an employer; or
  • any other document approved by a court or lender

Virginians have up to 90 days after the declared state of emergency ends to request a delay from the courts. 
Both bills were passed by the House of Delegates in August and now need the governor’s signature to become law.

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